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Mr Toad

John Bayley

20 October 1994
Evelyn Waugh 
by Selina Hastings.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 600 pp., £20, October 1994, 1 85619 223 7
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... won’t want to see you ... Then even the impossible possibility of having your child will be gone. The letter was from Joyce Gill, whom Evelyn had known as Joyce Fagan when he was an undergraduate. SelinaHastings quotes it in her biography without any particular comment, but something in her style and approach shows how much she is aware of its import. For this is a biography of such exceptional ...

No more alimony, tra la la

Miranda Carter: Somerset Maugham

17 December 2009
The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham 
by Selina Hastings.
John Murray, 614 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 7195 6554 0
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... was the most successful writer in the Anglophone world. By the time he was 90, 80 million copies of his books had been sold, he was a media celebrity and a very rich man. He had also lived, as SelinaHastings says, ‘much of his life under cover’. He went to great lengths to erase evidence of his private life, systematically destroying his personal papers, asking friends to burn his letters ...


Rosemary Hill: Rosamund Lehmann’s Disappointments

8 August 2002
Rosamond Lehmann 
by Selina Hastings.
Chatto, 476 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 6542 1
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... on his American wife, Alice. ‘I hope you sometimes feel miserable, too!’ she wrote to him once, but it seems unlikely he did. Lehmann later said that she was always in love with her father, and SelinaHastings confirms that her parents’ relationship set the psychological pattern for the rest of her life. She was attracted to men who loved her too little, repulsed by anything that smacked of the ...


Alan Brien

5 December 1985
Orson Welles 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 562 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 297 78476 5
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The Making of ‘Citizen Kane’ 
by Robert Carringer.
Murray, 180 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7195 4248 0
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Spike Milligan 
by Pauline Scudamore.
Granada, 318 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12275 7
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Nancy Mitford 
by Selina Hastings.
Hamish Hamilton, 274 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 241 11684 8
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Rebel: The Short Life of Esmond Romilly 
by Kevin Ingram.
Weidenfeld, 252 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 297 78707 1
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The Mitford Family Album 
by Sophia Murphy.
Sidgwick, 160 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 283 99115 1
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... All five biographies under review fall into this trap occasionally, Ms Scudamore deeper than most. For example, Spike takes two children on holiday to Winchelsea: One of the places they visited was Hastings Castle. They lived in a rented cottage and were looked after by a kindly Australian woman called Elizabeth Wiltshire. Spike wrote in his diary: ‘She was like a mother to them.’ End of story. No ...

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